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Carpenter sharp in Cardinals' victory
PITTSBURGH -- Chris Carpenter always arrives at the ballpark thinking he is going to pitch an exceptional game. Maybe that's why he does exactly that so often.
Carpenter limited the Pirates to two hits over eight innings in his third consecutive strong start, and Jim Edmonds and David Eckstein homered in the St. Louis Cardinals' 4-0 victory over the Pittsburgh Pirates on Wednesday.
The right-handed Carpenter has been near perfect on the road the last two seasons, going 14-1 in 18 starts. He beat the Pirates for the sixth time in seven career decisions. Repeatedly getting ahead in the count, he didn't allow a runner after hitting Chris Duffy with a pitch to start the first until rookie Ronny Paulino singled with one out in the sixth for his third career hit.
Paulino was fooled earlier in the at-bat, bailing out on a first-pitch breaking ball that broke over the plate. But he worked the count to 2-2 before lining a single into short left field.
"I know I got a little careless. I threw him a lot of breaking balls in a row," said Carpenter, who was aware he had a no-hit bid going. "That's why it's so hard to do it."
The Pirates, 11-32 against the Cardinals in PNC Park, didn't threaten until Freddy Sanchez singled and Jason Bay walked starting the seventh. But Carpenter got Jeromy Burnitz and Craig Wilson to fly out and struck out Mike Edwards.
"That was vintage Carpenter," Cardinals manager Tony La Russa said. "He had first and second, the middle of the lineup, and he gets out of it. That's what he does. He's got three different fastballs, a curve, a changeup -- five or six things he throws a guy. He gives different looks to different hitters. He's quite a handful."
As he expects to be.
"I really believe that if you concentrate, and locate your pitches down in the strike zone, you're going to be successful," Carpenter said. "I don't go into any game wondering how I'm going to feel and if I'm going to do well. I feel I'm going to do well -- and I have control of that, as long as I execute my pitches down in the strike zone."
Burnitz said the problem with facing Carpenter is that the pitcher rarely makes a mistake.
"When you pitch with the success he's had, he's executing every pitch he's got," Burnitz said. "That's how you achieve the level he has."
Carpenter (2-1) struck out six and walked one to lower his ERA to 1.67, and he has allowed only one earned run and 10 hits over 22 innings in his last three starts. He was coming off a 1-0 loss to the Reds' Aaron Harang on Friday.
"He doesn't give you anything twice," Sanchez said. "It's a guessing game with him and, today, I was always guessing wrong."
Jason Isringhausen, shaky at times to start the season, finished the two-hitter.
Albert Pujols failed to homer after hitting his ninth and 10th of the season in the previous two games of the three-game series. He flied out in the first, then walked his next three times up. After he was intentionally walked in the ninth to put two on, Edmonds hit his two-run double.
The pitching matchup -- Carpenter vs. Victor Santos -- looked like a mismatch, with Carpenter bringing an 86-61 career record into the game to Santos' 18-35. But Santos (1-3) made the best start of his four with Pittsburgh, allowing no other hits except for the two homers over six innings, striking out four and walking one.
Edmonds returned after not starting for four games (right shoulder inflammation) and drove in three runs. He gave the Cardinals a 1-0 lead with his second homer, a drive into the right-field seats to start the second, and added a two-run double in the ninth against Roberto Hernandez.
"I was a little worried about how I would do today -- we've been playing pretty well since I came out of the lineup -- but I wanted to get in there and take a little pressure off Albert," Edmonds said.
Eckstein homered with two outs in the third, a shot down the left-field line on a full-count pitch.
* Immediately after Paulino singled, Carpenter got his 1,000th career strikeout by getting pinch-hitter Nate McLouth on a called third strike.
* There were 31 homers in the 10 games at PNC Park, nearly double the pace of a year ago when 140 homers were hit there in 81 games.
* St. Louis is 48-17 over the last three seasons when Carpenter starts.